The Starting Line – Polticos Seek to Spin California Gasoline Price Spike

by on October 8, 2012 · 3 comments

in Business, Columns, The Starting Line

While the increases in the price of gasoline in California are setting records, politicians of every stripe are looking for ways to gain an advantage with voters. The fact is that there is no magical solution to the crisis, which has consumers paying well over $5 a gallon in parts of the Golden State. A little fairy dust from the GOP’s free market wand isn’t going to solve the problem. Sen. Diane Feinstein’s letter to the Federal Trade Commission won’t help either.

The right wingers over at SD Rostra blog posted a letter from ‘Poway Roger’ blaming ‘increased regulations and restrictions passed in the name of the environment and the consumer’.  Richard Rider, of San Diego Tax Fighters fame, posted a letter that spins blame for the crisis on state taxes and (incorrectly) says that only refineries in California can make the blends of gasoline that are used here.

Our senior US Senator is charging that spiking gas prices may be the “results of an illegal short squeeze” engineered by the handful of companies that refine gas here.  Saying that “California consumers are all-too-familiar with energy price spikes which cannot be explained by market fundamentals, and which turn out years later to have been the result of malicious and manipulative trading activity,” Sen Feinstein is calling on the feds to establish a permanent gas and oil oversight market committee .

Gov. Jerry Brown has done just about the only thing that can be done by ordering the California Air Resources Board to increase the fuel supply by allowing the immediate sale and import of cheaper and more available winter-blend gasoline. Prices will now drop over the coming week by 20 cents or so and more over the coming month.  Brown’s move allows gasoline refined in Washington State, the US Gulf Coast and the US Virgin Islands (among other places) that is either in route or already in storage tanks in anticipation of the seasonal switchover to be used.

There are no easy answers to the underlying reasons for the gasoline shortage. Clearly California could benefit from more refining capacity. But the reality is oil refining is not a lucrative business most of the time (although oil production is), so refiners don’t have any incentive to maintain a lot of spare capacity. The low margins of the business make it unlikely that any company is going to step forward and build one. The only way a new refinery will get built is if gas prices are persistently high. That’s the Catch-22.

Of course, if you’d like the smog to return and don’t mind the asthma and respiratory diseases associated with air pollution to increase, we could dump some of those environmental regulations the righties are always complaining about. Or we could find ways to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. And don’t hold your breath (pun intended) waiting for anyone to get busted for profiteering.

God’s Picks for Political Offices Announced

It should come as no surprise that La Mesa’s Skyline Church participated in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”, an event staged annually since 2008 by a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom that encourages church pastors to challenge to the Internal Revenue Service’s rule that restricts over political activity by non-profit groups.

Pastor Jim Garlow talked right up to that challenge yesterday, but pulled his rhetorical punches by saying that while he personally was voting for Republican Mitt Romney, the only endorsement at hand was for Jesus.   The Skyline Church sermon was part of a coordinated action spread over 1500 churches nationwide, that was mostly (although not exclusively) carried out by evangelical churches in support of conservative candidates and causes.

The Alliance for Defending Freedom is seeking to provoke a challenge from the IRS in order to file a lawsuit and have its argument out in court. The Skyline Church sermon included specially selected Biblical passages that were supportive of the Republican platform and a guest appearance by National Tea Party leader and radio talk show host Gina Loudon.

The Church was most recently in the news when counseling pastor Dr. Donald Welch filed a lawsuit seeking to block a newly enacted California law that prohibits the use of “pray the gay away” therapies on minors.  They also hosted a retreat this summer for the virulently ant-gay National Organization for Marriage.

I actually have no problem with pastors espousing political viewpoints. While it seems a bit presumptuous for pastors to presume that politically interpreting religious documents is okay, but that scriptural writings on evolution (marriage, etc) must be literally observed, I say if they want to play (politics) then they ought to pay (taxes).

Hypocrisy Abounds in the Sunday UT-San Diego

There it was, for those of us who soiled our fingers with the print edition of the Dougchester’s divinations, a neat little box on the top right hand corner of the front page calling attention to the ‘FILNER’s SCAM’ editorial on age B-6.

I breathlessly turned the pages, wondering whether the Democratic candidate for Mayor of San Diego had violated the public trust by encouraging newly de-regulated financial institutions to engage in illegal activities that resulted in a crashed economy and financial ruin for millions of Americans.  Or run a scam cheating thousands of veterans out of their GI Bills by promising a college degree they had little or no chance of getting.  But no, that wasn’t it.

It seems that, several years back, Congressman Bob paid his (ex) wife with campaign funds as a political consultant. It was, (and is) a fairly common practice, like it or not. He stopped doing so after a Congressional report critical of the process was released. It seemed like the UT-San Diego was making much ado about nothing in its quest to get their guy into the top spot downtown. Ho-hum.

But then, via the Twitter grapevine, new information surfaced. It seems like both UT-SD darlings Brian Bilbray and Carl DeMaio have also engaged in this practice of shoveling donor dollars to their significant others. (In fact, Bilbray started doing so AFTER the critical Congressional report.) I don’t suppose we should hold our collective breaths for the denunciations of their ‘extremely distasteful’ campaign practices.

Irony Alert

The latest ‘Forever’ postage stamp features a shrinking Alaskan glacier.  (Don’t think too hard about it: postage stamps are used to indicate that fees have been paid in sending snail mail; glaciers are disappearing in the northern hemisphere almost as fast as the postal service is.) h/t Joe Romn @ Think Progress.

Are You Illegal? Think Again

Think about it. Does speeding make you an illegal driver? Why do we dismiss a whole group of people with that particular adjective? Check out this excerpt via Raw Story (or better yet, read the whole story):

NPR Latino USA anchor María Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Sunday her opposition to the term “illegal immigrant” stemmed from a conversation with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel years ago in which Wiesel said the term was part of the horrors he faced in his youth.

“If there is an authority, you should be it,” Hinojosa said she told Wiesel. “And he said, ‘María, don’t ever use the term ‘illegal immigrant.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because once you label a people ‘illegal,’ that is exactly what the Nazis did to Jews.’ You do not label a people ‘illegal.’ They have committed an illegal act. They are immigrants who crossed illegally. They are immigrants who crossed without papers. They are immigrants who crossed without permission. They are living in this country without permission. But they are not an illegal people.”

The use of the term resurfaced for debate this week, with undocumented journalist and immigration advocate Jose Antonio Vargas and New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan recently discussing the use of it in the press.

 Proposition 37 Opponents Forced to Pull TV Ads

The campaign against a California ballot proposition requiring food manufacturers to label products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), funded by financially motivated pesticide and junk food companies, has been forced to pull one of its own television ads.

The “No on 37” commercial was yanked off the air after it was revealed that their spokesperson and ‘top scientist’ Dr. Henry Miller was not affiliated with Stanford University as the ad claimed.  In fact their spokesperson has a long and checkered past. He works for a right wing think tank called the Hoover Institute that happens to be located at the University. In other words, he works ON the Stanford campus as a corporate propagandist, but ISN’T a Professor at Stanford University.

His greatest accomplishments include:

 Shilling for Big Tobacco: he worked with Phillip Morris discredit the links between tobacco products, and cancer and heart disease;

 Advocating for the reintroduction of the toxic pesticide DDT,  which was banned in the United States and has been linked to pre-term birth and fertility impairment in women;

Aiding Exxon’s  efforts to undercut the reality of climate change;

Attacking the US Food and Drug Administration’s  efforts to ensure proper vetting and testing of new drugs safety while urging it outsource more of its functions to private industries,

And claiming Japanese exposed to radiation from Fukushima “could actually have benefited” from it.

Miller is, on the other hand, an expert pitchman who often repeats one claim that includes three lies in a single sentence, stating “The World Health Organization, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and other respected medical and health organizations all conclude that genetically engineered foods are safe.”

The only problem is not one of these organizations has come to such a conclusion:

A National Academy of Sciences report concluded that products of genetic engineering technology “carry the potential for introducing unintended compositional changes that may have adverse effects on human health.”

The American Medical Association has adopted a position calling for mandatory safety assessments of genetically engineered foods

And the World Health Organization / United Nations food standards group, Codex Alimentarius, which sets the global on food policy issues, states that mandatory safety studies should be required – a standard the US fails to meet.

(Italicized excerpts in the above story were originally published at Daily Kos.)

On This Day:  In 1944 “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” debuted on CBS radio. In 1957 The Brooklyn Dodgers announced a deal to move the team to Los Angeles. In 1980 Bob Marley collapsed onstage during a show in Pittsburgh. It was the last show he would ever perform. He died seven months later of cancer.

 On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 1pm –Sunset

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013 and 2014. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar bob dorn October 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

Sometimes I think I’d be utterly stupid if it weren’t for Doug Porter.

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avatar Anna Daniels October 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Re: Oil prices. Maybe the rising prices are the result of another fun loving billionaire:
“The actions of an inebriated broker during a booze-induced black-out pushed global oil prices to an 8 month high.
CNBC reports that Steve Perkins, senior broker at PVM Oil Futures, spent $520 million in client money on futures contracts in a drunken haze during a late night booze spree, pushing oil prices up $1.50. ” 9/30/12

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avatar Wendy Wyatt October 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm

personally, i am a LOT more concerned about the Children in Syria than i am the price the gas.

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